Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Also by Mike Eckel
June 01, 2023
Moscow Does Not Believe In Drones: Why Are Military-Grade Drones Flying Over The City And Who's Behind It?
The drones that slammed into buildings and hit other locations in Moscow this week were the second batch to rattle the Russian capital in a month. It's still not clear who's behind them, and what the goal is. Here's what we know.
May 26, 2023
Consider The Porcupine: Western Officials Struggle To Find A New Security Model For Ukraine
It’s called the “porcupine” or “Israel” model: Supply enough weaponry to turn Ukraine’s military into an armed force so powerful and prickly that Russia wouldn’t want to attack it. In return? NATO membership would be back-burnered. It’s an idea gaining traction in some NATO meeting rooms.
May 11, 2023
The Snake, The FBI, And Center 16: Why The Takedown Of A 'Most Sophisticated Cyber-Espionage Tool' Is Important
One of the most sophisticated cyber-espionage tools ever developed was taken down this week. The Russian FSB's "Snake" malware lurked for years in computers at NATO, in Western governments, and elsewhere. Here's what its disruption by U.S., British, and other agencies means -- and what it doesn't.
May 04, 2023
The Kremlin And The Drones: An Audacious Attack, A Provocation, A False Flag, Or Something Else?
More than 24 hours after someone flew two drones into the Kremlin, in a spectacular display caught on video, it's still not clear who was responsible. If Ukraine did do it, as Russia alleges and Kyiv denies, it would be a major embarrassment for Moscow.
April 27, 2023
Why Ukraine's Looming Offensive May Be The Most Important Clash Of The War. Period.
After a grinding winter in which Russian forces failed to regain battlefield momentum, both Moscow and Kyiv are girding for a new Ukrainian counteroffensive that officials have signaled is imminent. When it comes, it's likely to be a major turning point in the 14-month-old invasion.
April 21, 2023
'Creative Diplomacy' And The FSB: Was A Russian NGO Bridging Divides Or Spying On Unwitting Participants?
For years, Natalia Burlinova and her NGO promoted “public diplomacy” and Russia’s perspective on the world. The FBI has now issued an arrest warrant alleging it was a project managed by the Russian FSB. Participants say they’re stunned -- but not surprised.
April 18, 2023
Sudan Slips Into Chaos. Russia Lurks In The Background.
The warring factions that are tipping Sudan into civil war are once-allied military adversaries -- both with ties to Moscow and the notorious mercenary company Wagner. Here’s what you need to know about the situation in Sudan and Russia’s potential role.
April 06, 2023
Sunset For Baikonur? A Contract Dispute With Kazakhstan Flashes Warnings For Russia's Legendary Spaceport
In recent years, Russia's space agency has lurched from crisis to scandal to embarrassment. Now a contract dispute with a Kazakh partner may hasten the demise of the famed Baikonur Cosmodrome.
March 31, 2023
Holy Eviction: What's Going On With The Standoff At Kyiv's Famous Monastery Of The Caves?
A standoff at a nearly 1,000-year-old Orthodox monastery renowned for its labyrinthine subterranean caves and chapels is coming to a head as monks from a denomination that was long loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church defy Ukrainian orders to leave. Here’s what you need to know.
March 20, 2023
Standard Deviations: How An IMF Forecast For Russia Kicked Up A Storm
The International Monetary Fund kicked up a tempest when it forecast Russia’s sanctions-pummeled economy would grow this year. Some experts accused the lender of whitewashing dodgy statistics; others say the forecast is plausible.
March 16, 2023
Don't Call It Mobilization: Across Russia, Military Recruiters Send Out New Orders
Russia is gearing up for a new wave of recruitment to bolster its decimated ranks of troops fighting in Ukraine. Whether it will be a full-blown mobilization like the call-up the Kremlin launched last September isn’t yet clear.
March 16, 2023
Russian Activist Kara-Murza Too Ill To Attend Court, Trial Delayed Till March 20
The opening of the trial against a prominent Russian opposition activist who twice nearly died after what he says were deliberate poisoning attacks was delayed until March 20 after his lawyer told the court his health had "significantly deteriorated."
March 13, 2023
The Nord Stream Mystery: What We Know About The Baltic Sea Pipeline Blasts
A drifting Greek tanker. A chartered German sailboat. Intercepted Russian communications. The mystery over the blasts that destroyed part of the Baltic Sea pipeline bringing Russian gas to Europe deepens with revelations about German investigations and Danish marine traffic. Here's what we know.
March 07, 2023
If Bakhmut Falls: What The Battle For A City Of Little Military Significance Means For The Ukraine War
After months of intensifying onslaughts, the Donbas city of Bakhmut is now the site of the bloodiest fighting of the entire Ukraine war. It's an open question how much longer Ukraine can hold off the Russian assault and what will it mean if the city falls.
March 01, 2023
Ex-White House Official Says Putin's 'Fixation' On Empire Led To The War On Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin himself provoked the events that led to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, a former top White House official says, arguing that what he calls Putin's fixation on restoring the Russian empire may have made war all but inevitable.
February 17, 2023
What Happened In Vuhledar? A Battle Points To Major Russian Military Problems
More than two weeks after a major clash between Russian and Ukrainian forces, details are slowly emerging as to what exactly happened earlier this month in the small coal-mining town in southeastern Ukraine.
February 17, 2023
How Did Everybody Get The Ukraine Invasion Predictions So Wrong?
In the run-up to Russia’s February 2022 invasion, many doubted it would happen. And when it did, the wide consensus was that Ukraine’s military would be routed, Kyiv would be captured in days, the government would fall. None of that occurred – not even close. Why were so many people so wrong?
February 09, 2023
'The Most Dangerous Possibility': A Glimpse Into U.S. Fears Of A Russia-Ukraine War, 30 Years Ago
In a newly declassified memo from 1993, the top U.S. diplomat warned of the possibility of war between Russia and "any of a number" of its neighbors. "Ukraine not the most likely but certainly the most dangerous possibility," he wrote.